Chinese Government, Media Play Down New Friction With India

The Chinese Defence Ministry and government/party controlled media have played down the new friction between India and China over the reported disinclination of the Chinese Foreign Ministry to issue a regular visa to Lt. Gen. B. S Jaswal, the General Officer commanding in chief of India’s Northern Command, who was to lead  an Indian military team for the fourth defence dialogue to be held in Beijing. The Chinese Foreign Office reportedly stated that he came from the “sensitive location of Jammu and Kashmir” and “people from this part of the world come with a different kind of visa” and suggested that India depute some other officer for the dialogue.

The Government of India has not agreed to this and suspended two forthcoming visits by three Chinese military officers to India — two of them for attending a training course. New Delhi has, however, clarified that the suspension of military exchanges would not apply to the periodic trans-border meetings between military officers posted on both sides of the disputed border as part of the confidence-building measures.

There is apparently an attempt by both capitals to keep the temperature under control and not to allow the friction to assume a self-sustaining and aggravating dimension, thereby damaging the over-all bilateral relationship.  New Delhi has denied press speculation that officials of China’s Ministry of Public Security had recently removed maps of India exhibited in the Indian pavilion in the Shanghai Expo showing Arunachal Pradesh as an integral part of India. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as its territory and describes it as  southern Tibet.

The Chinese Defence Ministry has sought to give the impression that India’s suspension of the forthcoming visit of three Chinese military officers to India did not  amount to a suspension of the broader military exchanges between the two countries. It said in a statement: “China has not suspended defense exchanges with India and has received no word that India has stopped military exchanges between the two countries. ” The Chinese Foreign Ministry, which caused the friction by its disinclination to issue  the visa, has remained silent till now.

There is an attempt  by the Chinese to treat it as a purely visa-related misunderstanding not having any strategic significance in relation to the Chinese position on Jammu & Kashmir and to create an impression that China has not changed its position to favour Pakistan and to the detriment of India. In an article carried on August 30,2010, the Party-controlled “Global Times” said: ” The Muslim-majority region of Kashmir is now under control by India and Pakistan, both of which claim full rights to the area.” A copy of the article is annexed.

ANNEXURE

Text of the article carried by the “Global Times”

Military exchanges intact: China

By Wang Zhaokun

China on Saturday denied reports that it had halted its military ties with India, saying it has confidence that both sides will focus on the broader picture of the bilateral relations between the two neighbors.

“China has not suspended defense exchanges with India and has received no word that India has stopped military exchanges between the two countries,” a statement by China’s defense ministry said.

The statement came after reports in Indian media that New Delhi had canceled defense exchanges with Beijing following a visa row between the two Asian giants.

“China takes developing military ties with India seriously, and we are confident that both sides will stay focused on the broader picture of bilateral ties, acting in a spirit of consultation and unity to promote the healthy development of military ties,” the statement said.

India summoned China’s ambassador Friday to protest against Beijing’s refusal of a visa to B.S. Jaswal, an Indian general who had intended to visit China for a high-level defense exchange between the countries.

Indian media said the reason for turning down the visa to Jaswal is that he is responsible for Indian military operations in the disputed area of India-controlled Kashmir.

The Muslim-majority region of Kashmir is now under control by India and Pakistan, both of which claim full rights to the area.

Fu Xiaoqiang, a professor on South Asia affairs at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times that border and military issues between India and China are quite sensitive, and both sides should handle them carefully.

“I don’t think the latest visa row between the two countries will have a big impact on bilateral relations,” Fu said.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and India, and China is already India’s biggest trade partner.

However, mistrust remains between the two large emerging economies due to issues such as territorial disputes.

“The rise of the two large countries will definitely bring some clashes. And it will take some time for China and India to establish full trust toward each other,” Fu said. “But it is dialogue rather than confrontation that can improve mutual understanding.”

Agencies contributed to this story


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B. Raman

B. Raman

B. Raman (August 14, 1936 – June 16, 2013) was Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai and Associate, Chennai Centre For China Studies.

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